A former City Council member who volunteers as a reserve officer for the Los Angeles Police Department helped solve a 15-year-old murder at a Boyle Heights bar using DNA testing, and the suspect charged with the murder in 2015 is due in court for sentencing later this month.
On Dec. 17, 2001, 71-year-old Alfredo Trevino was found with 104 stab wounds and a “W” carved on his back at La Cita, the bar at 2471 Whittier Blvd. he owned and tended. Two men wearing ski masks are believed to have confronted Trevino while he was closing the bar the night he was murdered.
Trevino’s murder remained unresolved until the “cold case” landed on the desk of reserve officer Greig Smith, the two-stint councilmember who had been promoted to detective on the elite Robbery-Homicide division. The Los Angeles Times reported this week that Smith ordered testing of a piece of bloody latex glove and matched the DNA to a prison inmate named Hugo Lara, who was serving time for a robbery.
Lara was charged with Trevino’s murder in December 2015. He pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter, guilty to committing a gang-related crime, and guilty to using a deadly weapon. He’s expected to get 22 years in prison when he goes to court on July 31.
The murder is said to be retaliation from a local gang. A year before Trevino was murdered, an unofficial bouncer at La Cita shot and killed one and injured two other people believed to be members of White Fence, the gang that claimed the bar as part of its territory. The “W” carved into Trevino’s back and a bloody napkin found in the bar with a sketch of a skull with two knives through it are believed to be indication that the 2001 killing was revenge for the gang member’s death.
Lara, who frequented La Cita, is a member of an El Sereno gang that is friendly to White Fence. Two men are believed to have committed the murder and the second assailant has not been identified. The search for a third person who was the lookout when the murder took place and whomever ordered the hit also continues.
For years after the murder, Trevino’s son operated the bar –though he changed its name to The Whitt. The Times reported that the son sold the bar last month.
Photo above: The Whitt, formerly La Cita, the bar on Whittier Boulevard where Alfredo Trevino was murdered in 2001.